Financial Abuse: Jessica's story
When Jessica* met her partner, she had long term employment, a stable rental and significant savings.
After they moved in together, Jessica’s partner became increasingly reliant on her to pay for the rent, bills and groceries. Slowly, the controlling behaviour escalated. He encouraged Jessica to give him joint access to her savings account and later stole most of the money by transferring it to an overseas account without her permission.
He convinced Jessica she was no good at IT, so he could get access to her personal banking details and set up passwords for her online accounts. He got a credit card online in Jessica’s name without her knowledge. He wanted a brand new luxury car, so he coerced Jessica into getting an expensive car loan in her name.
Jessica was struggling to afford the repayments across these various loans. Her partner refused to contribute and lied about working when he was actually gambling at the casino. When Jessica finally confronted him about money, he became violent and strangled Jessica. She says she was afraid that he would have killed her if a neighbour had not come to her aid. Finally, while Jessica was supposed to be protected by an ADVO, her partner pressured her to attend the bank with him and withdraw a large sum of cash from her account. Shortly after, he left Australia and Jessica was left with all the debt.
Jessica’s experience of domestic violence made her so unwell she was unable to work. She went months with no income, during which time she attempted suicide and obtained more debt in an attempt to manage her existing debt. For years, Jessica was being chased by debt collectors and suffering from extreme financial stress. Despite working long hours she could not get ahead. Eventually, her wages were garnished, reducing her income to only $495 per week which was less than her rent, let alone her other bills and debt repayments. She was actively considering bankruptcy when she contacted RLC for advice.
RLC investigated the financial abuse in the context of the lending by the various creditors. After lengthy negotiations with the creditors, over $80,000 in debt was waived. We also assisted Jessica with a successful claim of almost $25,000 compensation for irresponsible lending on the car loan.
If you or someone you know has experienced financial abuse, contact Redfern Legal Centre for free, confidential advice.
More info: RLC's Financial Abuse Legal Service